Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Round Ireland with a Fridge (2010)

Some films sound so bizarre that they demand to be watched 'just in case'.  So it was that I viewed this movie about a struggling and stale comedian, one of whose oft-told routines was to relate how on his first trip to Ireland he saw an old man trying to hitch with a refrigerator in tow, and how as a result of a drunken bet he found himself attempting to hitch all the way around the coast of Ireland, within one month, with his own fridge for company.

The idiot in question is one Tony Hawks, a writer, comedian, and television 'personality' -- completely unknown to me -- who actually published a humorous book with the above title in 1998, telling the true story of this challenge.  Apparently the book has had massive sales both in Britain and overseas, and the film version has now been made.  A number of the comments on IMDb suggest that the book is far, far superior to the movie which is really 'a pile of shite' to use the Irish vernacular. Hawks plays himself in this film, directed by Ed Bye -- mainly a television director, but also responsible for some bummer feature films like "Kevin and Perry Go Large" and "Fat Slags" (I kid you not).  Hawks begins this silly story of a silly person doing something silly as a somewhat wooden and unappealing personality, ready to pack in the whole futile exercise after a few days of not getting lifts and staying in unappetising guest houses.  However he is encouraged to carry on after his story is picked up by a radio 'personality' and he meets the DJ's dishy assistant, Roisin (Valerie O'Connor), and her tracking radio car.  Gradually through a series of vignettes we follow his purportedly amusing journey and see that his character is getting a new lease on life, as he meets a selection of yokels and finds that he is giving them something to smile about.  The world-weary Hawks who starts the movie as an English 'eedjit' gradually learns more about the meaning of life from the laid-back Irish.

That he stands to win £100 from the bet and has already spent £130 to buy the small fridge and its trolley, plus of course his actual travel expenses are neither here nor there in this saga.  So he finds his pet fridge blessed by nuns, baptised "Saoirse" (like the actress), covered in graffiti by friends met en route, and even taken for a ride on a surfboard.  One night he is forced to sleep in a vacated doghouse when no other accommodation is available, and his now budding romance with Roisin goes adrift when she finds him kipping there with a local 'Australian slut' ("I'm a Kiwi slut" the young lady protests).  None of this is even remotely funny although small parts of his trek are mildly amusing.  The funniest gag is reserved for the name of the film's production company -- Fridge d'or -- think about it. Meanwhile the radio host who has been monitoring his exploits plans a triumphal march on the day he is due to return to Dublin, urging crowds to turn out carrying their own domestic appliance, to escort him back to the shopping centre where his pilgrimage began.  In actuality about twenty people turn up, but the 'magic of radio' makes their cheers sound "like the Pope's visit". 

It wasn't particularly painful to watch 90 minutes of this nonsense, but I can hardly recommend it to your attention.  I gather Mr. Hawks has now written another book called "Beating the Moldovans at Tennis", which is also being made into a film.  It seems that the gist of this one is that he tracks down the former members of a Moldovan football squad and challenges each of them to a game of tennis.  I think I just might manage to avoid watching that movie if ever it comes my way!

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